How Do North Carolina Counties Assess Property Taxes? How To Appeal If Yours Increase

To be a property owner is to be a taxpayer. Once you become a homeowner, of course, you’ll never need to question whether you’ll get a tax bill. You’ll just need to know how much you’ll owe! And that all depends on where you live. 

How Property Taxes Are Determined in North Carolina

In North Carolina, county tax offices send the tax bills to property owners in their locale. County commissioners in each area determine the tax rate for their county, and it can change from year to year.

“North Carolina consists of 100 counties, ranging in size from 3,500 parcels to 220,000 parcels. The counties are governed by the County Manager form of government. The county commissioners are elected from a district or at large, and the size of the county board can vary from three to eleven members. County Assessors and Tax Collectors are appointed by the county commissioners. In several counties, these positions are combined under the title County Tax Administrator. The tax rate for each county is set by the county commissioners, based upon the taxable base for the county and the county’s budgetary requirements.”

North Carolina Department of Revenue

Here’s a glimpse of the last five years’ tax rates (per $100 valuation) for several Triangle counties:

How To Calculate Your Property Taxes

To calculate the tax for your property, you’ll need to know several numbers: 

  • The tax-appraised value of your property based on the county’s assessment
  • The current county tax rate (as provided above)
  • Any current city or district tax rates

Combine the current county and city/district rates and multiply by the tax appraised value of your property. For example, let’s estimate the taxes on a $250,000 home in the heart of Johnston County in the Town of Clayton, NC. 

In 2022, the Town of Clayton’s property tax rate is $0.58 per $100 of valuation, and the Johnston County rate is $0.73 per $100 of valuation. Combine those two numbers, and you’ll have $1.31 per $100 valuation. 

So, let’s divide the tax appraised value of the home by 100 and then multiply by the tax rate to get the property taxes for a $250,000 home in Clayton. 

$250,000 / 100 x $1.31 = $3,275

If you live in a different city and county, the formula is the same. You can plug in the rates that are appropriate for your location. If you don’t already know the rates for where you live, a simple internet search can get you on the right track. Simply search “property tax rates in YOUR CITY or TOWN.”

What To Do When Property Taxes Rise

calculating property taxes

What happens if you calculate the amount of taxes you owe, but the bill that lands in your mailbox is higher than you expected?

This does happen sometimes. US News & World Report gives several potential triggers for property tax increases: 

  • Changes in local, state or federal government laws 
  • A recovering real estate market that brings rising home values to your neighborhood 
  • A county’s reassessment of your home and land

If you’re not sure why your tax bill is higher than expected, you may appeal it. 

All property owners have the right to appeal the appraised value of their property. If you believe the value does not reflect fair market value and have information to support your position, or you can document damage or factors that may influence the value, you may want to consider an appeal. An appeal would not be effective if you think your value is accurate but the taxes are too high. The appeals process pertains only to the appraised value.

Wake County Tax Administration

The North Carolina Department of Revenue explains that it’s best to start with a phone call to your local tax office to get more information about their specific process for appealing. NCDOR calls that an informal request. If you’re not able to settle informally, the next level of appeals follow a clear order:

  • Appeal to the local Board of Equalization and Review (BOE) – NCDOR says this Board may be made up of local county commissioners, or the commissioners may have appointed a special group of people to sit on this Board.
  • Appeal to the state Property Tax Commission if you’re not satisfied with the local review.
  • Appeal to the state Court of Appeals if you’re still unsatisfied.

When taxpayers appeal to the BOE, it’s important that they know the process becomes formal at that time. 

NCDOR says, “The taxpayer [is] allotted a specific amount of time to present his case and the county also [has] time to present its side. The Board of Equalization and Review may choose to decide the appeal immediately or choose to delay its decision and deliberate further. The taxpayer should receive a copy of this decision in writing.”

How To Appeal in Wake County, NC

couple appeals property tax bill

In Wake County, the process is similar, and it’s clearly laid out on the county’s website

Note that countywide reappraisals take place every four years in Wake County, and property owners may begin their appeal anytime between January 1 and early April, when the BOE adjourns each year. 

As is common throughout the state, the appeals process starts informally in Wake County, but the government has placed stipulations on who qualifies for an informal review: “Eligibility for an informal review requires that the county’s appraised value of your property has changed since the prior year billing and you are receiving first notice of the new value. If you are a new owner, eligibility for a review would still require that the county’s appraised value has changed since the previous year’s billed value.”

If the appraised value hasn’t changed or you’ve ignored previous notices, you can go straight to the more formal appeals process with the BOE.

When you have questions about the property taxes on your Triangle home, check with the real estate experts at Gaskill Realty. Our professionals understand the ups and downs of a changing market and can help you make the best decisions for your family. 

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The team at Gaskill Realty helps you rent, buy, invest, or sell property. Let us find you good living.
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